No political preconditions

As Sino-African relations continue to deepen, the United States and some European countries have been trying to find some “negative factors” in China’s Africa policies in recent years.

They have unjustly said China’s policies are aimed at plundering Africa’s rich natural resources and are a form of neocolonialism. They have also poured groundless criticism on China for its normal trade and investment activities with African countries.

In their uproar, Western countries have shown particular dissatisfaction with Beijing’s assistance to African countries because it has no political preconditions attached, saying such a practice has weakened Western efforts to promote good governance and human rights improvement in Africa.

These Western accusations are groundless and inequitable.

That China attaches no political preconditions to its economic aid to Africa is based on its similar historical experiences with African countries. Both China and African countries suffered heavily from Western colonialism and thus both value their hard-won sovereignty, independence and dignity. Their similar experiences have caused China and a majority of African countries to share the stance that there should be no intervention in other countries’ internal affairs in international relations.

The colonial aggression and oppression endured by China and African countries has had a profound influence on China’s policies toward Africa, especially its economic assistance to the continent. It has also deepened China’s understanding that, as a provider of economic assistance to African countries, it should fully respect the recipients’ own development path and refrain from using economic aid as a way to interfere with the recipient country’s internal affairs. China’s stance is an important factor in the decades-long development of Sino-African relations.

Attaching no political preconditions to its assistance is an embodiment of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, which uphold respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.

China started offering economic assistance to African countries in the mid-1950s under the spirit of the Bandung Conference held in Indonesia in 1955. The Chinese government put forward eight principles on aid to foreign countries in 1964, including the principles of “equality, mutual benefit, and attaching no political preconditions”. The eight principles have become China’s basic principles for its foreign assistance, including its assistance to Africa.

As pointed out in a White Paper issued by the State Information Office in April, China is still a developing country, its economic foundation is still not very strong, its development is still unbalanced, and inclusive development remains an arduous task. So China’s foreign assistance falls into the category of South-South cooperation and belongs to “mutual help” among developing countries.

Africa is a continent with a concentration of developing nations. It is also a key area for China’s economic assistance. Africa has always benefited most from the Chinese government’s efforts to exempt foreign countries from some debts in recent years. China’s trade and investment activities in the African continent have also been in line with the principles of “equality, mutual benefit and common development”. China has no colonial history in Africa and it does not seek to colonize any country in the future.

As an important part of its foreign assistance, China’s aid to African countries aims to help the recipients improve their self-development capability. The international community, especially Western countries, should look at China’s cooperation with, and its assistance to, African countries with an objective and unbiased perspective.

As a model example of South-South cooperation, China’s assistance to African countries has never had, and will never have, any political preconditions attached. It will continue to inject new vitality into the traditional Sino-African friendship and their efforts to pursue mutual benefit and win-win results.

The author Fang Lexian is an associate professor with the School of International Relations, Renmin University of China.

(Source: China Daily)

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